Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Embracing Brexit

We’re taking our country back, they said. It’ll be just like the good old days, they said. Things were much better back then, they said. And so they voted for Brexit. One must roll with change. Give it a chance. Things might turn out all right. So Mrs P and myself have put it to the test. We have embraced Brexit. We went back to the future to put a goold old dose of the 1970s into 21st century Britain.

Whilst the norm has been to take low cost flights to exotic locations around the world, such as Thailand, Mexico or Africa, we went for a very traditional British holiday. We went camping. In a tent. In a field. As you do. And why not? What have any of those tropical places got to offer that is better than the glorious weather of a Great British summer? As an added bonus, it was an excellent opportunity to practice camping in the event that we might soon need to pitch up at a refugee centre at Dover, trying to smuggle ourselves across the channel into civilised France.

The adventure begins with the construction of the tent. A good quality British tent, I might add. The instructions for use, curiously, were all written in Double Dutch. I assume that’s because the tent was manufactured pre Brexit. Post Brexit models, one assumes, will contain none of this European nonsense and come with pictoral instructions featuring busty young ladies and Sid James. Except for the De Luxe models, of course. There’ll be no such smut for the well to do gentleman. His instructions will feature a few choice words in Urdu to help him instruct his Indian manservant. And a whip.

We did manage to assemble our tent in the end, overcoming my initial attempt to assemble it inside out. Sure, there were a few mystery pieces left over and the claim that it can be set up in 10 minutes was as big a lie as the promise to put the EU savings into the NHS. But still, it was functional. So, with our sleeping arrangements sorted, we began to think about dinner.

We’d set up camp at a site near a traditional old English village in the New Forest. Ideally, we’d have liked to have had a barbecue. Nothing beats some true 70s style British grisly sausages, incinerated on the outside, raw on the inside.  But we’d come here at the last minute and hadn’t brought any gear with us. I know what you’re thinking. A barbecue in the pouring rain? But us British are a hardy sort. I spotted at least a dozen sets of plucky campers trying to cook up plates of instant food poisoning on rickety looking cookers, protected by a flimsy sheet of plastic.


We wandered into town to find some grub. I’d hoped to buy a newspaper to read the latest nonsense about Brexit. However, this town really was a throw back to the 70s, and as it was a Saturday the shops had all shut by 12.30. Closed all day Wednesdays and Sundays. Basil Fawlty levels of service, no doubt, the rest of the week.

Food options were equally limited. We discussed what we fancied whilst walking. A Lebanese, perhaps? Or a Mexican? We’re always up for a Mexican. But we were open to suggestions. Greek, Turkish, Sushi, or even Polish all appealed. But whilst we’d arrive a few hours too late for the newspaper, we were at least 3 decades too early for such exotic international cuisine. There was a fish ‘n’ chip shop, a curry house or a Chinese takeaway. We selected the Indian, and settled down at the table, marvelling at its velvety tablecloth and plastic elephants.

The next morning we arose early and saught out some breakfast. Nothing. We had to briefly depart the 70s to visit a McDonalds some way out of town. But even there we found a bit of good old 1970s charm. McDonalds coffee. Back in the good old days, coffee in Britain was, rather uniquely, made from sun dried pig shit, ground up into chunky bits and served tepid. McDonalds absolutely nailed it, serving up several cups of this rather putrid liquid with bits. Ever wonder why Brits put so much milk in their hot drinks? Anything, to dilute the main ingredient that little bit. We returned to camp with our breakfasts. Just in time to see a little bit of the magic that the New Forest has to offer. We were reliably informed that they were fleeing the country.

Truth be told, we had a pretty fun weekend. I’ve never laughed at the 70s so much. Nostalgia is a pretty easy sell. There are Russians who long for the good old days of Communism. There are Africans who think they’d like to see the British running things again. And perhaps come November, if Trump wins, some Americans may look back fondly at 1775, when things were so much simpler. But the reality of the present day, even with all its uncertainty and frustrations, is where we are at. You can’t turn back the clock, and it’s unlikely to be better if you could. And frankly, as fun our weekend in the 70s was, the joke would run thin pretty quick. I quite like the 21st century, thanks very much.